10th October 2018
Once again I’m having to write this rather delayed blog post on the go, but this time I’m taking it even further than merely drafting on a train, for I’m currently flying at 10,795m somewhere over France at a speed of 875km/h! This is courtesy of Norwegian’s complimentary inflight WiFi, as I am currently bound for Oslo, but more on that in my next blog post.
As you may have guessed by now, last weekend I jumped in a car share and headed eastwards from Madrid and to the capital of Valencia, Valencia. Confusing, I know, but for this exercise I only stayed in the city of Valencia, so all is well!
I left Madrid directly from work on Friday and so arrived in Valencia by night, dropping my stuff off in the hostel I’d booked and heading straight back out to source a bite to eat and watch a rather wild opera performance in one of the plazas. This was all being put on in the local language, Valenciano, however, and so I ate my bocadillo de tortilla and wandered around the centre a little by night.
As I’m now a grumpy old man at the ripe old age of 23, I opted to skip the pub crawl offered by my hostel, and instead delayed returning to the hostel so that I could put myself to bed in peace and quiet after all the revellers had headed out. After a relatively decent night’s sleep, I was up in time to check out of my hostel, and so headed out for my first look of the fit in the light of day.
Naturally I wasn’t only going to stay in the city for one night, but I had totally fluffed up the hostel booking when I initially did it, and so had to book my second night at a different place. No fear, however, as I travel ridiculously lightly, so off I went into the city with my little half-full backpack and no idea as to what I should see nor do.
Luckily I enjoy wandering city streets and have a relatively good intuition for finding the neighbourhoods worth exploring, so I relied on those as I began my wanders. I was primarily impressed by the beautiful street art, which injects a splash of colour into the already vibrant and quirky city.
I soon stumbled across my first point of interest, the Mercat Central, a huge indoor market bustling with all kinds of stalls and tourists and locals alike.
I didn’t pick up anything whilst perusing as I didn’t want any extra weight to carry around for the rest of the weekend, but I did stop a while to take some photos of the impressive architecture.
Once I’d cleared the city centre, I knew one other area that I couldn’t miss whilst in Valencia, and that was the Ciudad de los Artes y las Ciencias (The City of Arts and Sciences). This huge linear site sits along part of the city’s green strip, and houses a variety of museums and exhibition centres in some of the wildest futuristic architecture I’ve seen.
It didn’t look like much was going on in the first building, which I shall refer to as the shark building due to its pointed shape and windows reminiscent of huge teeth, so I passed under its belly and on to the next.
This second building I shall refer to as the turtle building, mainly on count of its roof reassembling the shell of a turtle, but it was also seemingly closed, and so I spent a short while just taking in the atmosphere. It was a very strange place to be, walking along geometrical pathways woven between perfectly clean pools and the bluish glow that they reflected onto the crazy white architecture above.
I eventually arrived at the third building, which I shall call the Science Museum because a) that’s what it was and b) I couldn’t think of an animal that it looked like. I decided to actually go in this one, not because I fancied a wander through the “gene forest” (go figure), but because I had a wild craving for a tuna bocadillo and figured they probably had one in their café.
Once I’d eaten my wildly overpriced sandwich, I headed on down and further through the complex. I passed a large royal blue building which was closed for what looked like quite extensive renovations, and eventually found myself passing by the oceanarium, the last building within the complex.
As insinuated I wasn’t really in a mood for wandering around museums, and I definitely wasn’t in the mood for parting with too many of my hard-earned euros to do so, and so I opted to grab the bus for 1.50€ and head to the beach instead.
Valencia is well used by the people of Madrid as a quick holiday spot, and it seems like this beach tends to be the reason why, as it makes Valencia the nearest city with a beach to the capital. I, however, had my backpack in tow, didn’t have any sun cream, and didn’t fancy winding up with sand infiltrating the many holes of my knackered shoes, and so my entire beach experience consisted of taking a single photo of it, scoffing at the prices of the restaurants along the promenade, and heading back inland. To top it all off, the photo was rubbish and isn’t even worth including here. Good work, Briggs.
The bus ride to the beach had, however, allowed me 20 minutes or so to do a spot of research on the city, and I’d identified a nice neighbourhood that I fancied visiting, which by sheer good luck was situated just behind the beach area. Keeping to the shaded side of the streets to try and stop my pasty unprotected skin burning, I headed back towards the pretty architecture of the El Cabanyal neighbourhood.
As it was the middle of the afternoon and the height of the day’s heat, the streets were pretty quiet, but I was more than happy to just amble along them until I found a bar to refresh myself in. That I eventually did, snapping photos of the quirky scenes I saw along the way.
Once I’d bussed myself back to the city centre, I hunted down my second hostel and checked in. Finding one of my roommates asleep when I arrived, I headed straight back out for a drink and eventually an evening meal at a delicious burger place that I’d been recommended.
The next morning I headed out with my Canadian roommate who I’d got chatting to the night before, and we sat down for a chat and breakfast together. Eventually he had to grab his carshare, and after giving him a hand with his Spanish, I saw him off an headed further into the city.
With the same lack of plan as the day before, I went for a wander once again in an area of the city which, according to Google Maps, I’d yet to visit. Without meaning to I stumbled upon the design school, and then spent a while exploring the street art in the surrounding area, before settling myself in a bar for a drink.
It was when I sat down in said bar that I noticed I had lost my notebook, which had me upset no end, and so after a drink I headed back to my hostel to see if I’d left it in the room. On arrival I found it amongst the information booklets in the hostel, and so, panic over, I sat down for one final drink before I had to head to the west of the city for my carpool back to Madrid.
I arrived at the metro station to be picked up with quite a bit of spare time, and so managed to sneak in one other final drink before I met my driver and headed off in a van back towards the capital – just in time for a night’s sleep before work the following day!
PS: Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get this post sent from the plate as I flew to Oslo, as the WiFi on board couldn’t seem to cope with the photos as I tried to upload them, so this is being posted upon my return from Norway. Naturally I’ll be as quick as I can in getting the Oslo post up, but I took so many photos that it’s going to take quite a while! No spoilers…